Press Employment in 2022 at highest level since German unification

Number of persons in employment up by 589,000 (+1.3%) year on year

Press release No. 001 of 2 January 2023

WIESBADEN – On an annual average, there were roughly 45.6 million persons in employment in 2022 whose place of employment was in Germany. This was a record high since German unification in 1990. According to provisional calculations of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), in 2022 the average number of persons in employment rose strongly by 589,000 (+1.3%) on the previous year. The former record high of 2019 (45.3 million people) was exceeded by 292,000 (+0.6%). In 2020, the coronavirus crisis had stopped the upward trend in employment of more than 14 years and reduced the number of persons in employment by 362,000 (-0.8%). In 2021, employment increased only slightly by 65,000 persons (+0.1%).


The immigration of foreign labour was one of the reasons why employment went up in 2022. In addition, there was a higher labour force participation of the domestic population. These two contributions to growth more than offset the dampening effects of demographic change on the labour market, which will lead to a significant decline of the working-age population in the medium term (see press release no. 511 of 2 December 2022 on the subject).

Service branches with above-average employment growth

93% of employment growth was seen in the service branches, which grew by a total of 548,000 persons in employment in 2022, or 1.6%, to approximately 34.3 million compared with 2021. The largest absolute rise in this sector was recorded for public services, education, health, which accounted for an additional 189,000 persons in employment, or +1.6%. This branch had seen a similar increase in the number of persons in employment during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Trade, transport, accommodation and food services recorded the second largest absolute employment increase of +180,000 people (+1.8%), followed by business services, which include temporary employment agency activities (+88,000; +1.4%). However, the two branches could not offset the employment losses they had suffered in the two preceding years. The employment increases seen in information and communication were far above average (+70,000 persons in employment; +4.9%).

Employment growth was much smaller outside the service sector. In industry (excluding construction), the number of persons in employment was up by 31,000 (+0.4%) to roughly 8.1 million in 2022. This means that only a good tenth of the losses recorded in the two preceding years were offset. Positive contributions came again from construction, which recorded an increase of 13,000 persons in employment (+0.5%) to roughly 2.6 million. This shows that the good situation in the construction industry continued far into 2022. 5.8% of all persons in employment worked in construction in 2022.

Employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing, however, was down by 3,000 persons in employment from 2021, which is a decline of 0.5% to 558,000 and in line with the negative trend of the previous years.

More employees, fewer self-employed

The positive development in the German labour market was largely due to the number of employees which, on an annual average, rose by 643,000 (+1.6%) in 2022. A major factor contributing to the increase was the positive development of the number of employees subject to social insurance.Slight employment gains were also recorded in the number of persons employed in marginal jobs (on a low-pay or short-term basis, in job opportunities) which, however, were by far too small to offset the pandemic-related job losses. The downward trend observed for 11 years among self-employed including family workers continued in 2022. Their number fell by 54,000 to 3.9 million (-1.4%) on 2021.

Please note that short-time workers are counted as persons in employment in accordance with the employment accounts and labour force survey concepts.

Number of unemployed markedly down

Provisional estimates based on the labour force survey indicate that the number of unemployed people (according to the internationally comparable ILO definition) in Germany fell substantially by 209,000 (-13.6%) to 1.3 million on an annual average in 2022, year on year. The active labour force available in the labour market, defined as the total of persons in employment and unemployed persons, increased by 354,000 (+0.8%) to 46.8 million in the same period. The unemployment rate, which represents unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force, was down from 3.3% in the previous year to 2.8%.

More information:

A table containing annual results on the numbers of persons in employment and unemployed in the domestic territory by economic sector is shown on the employment page of the Federal Statistical Office’s website. Detailed data and long time series are available from the GENESIS-Online database:annual time series on persons in employment and employees in table 81000-0015 and on the labour force including unemployed in table 81000-0011.

Labour market data are available also in the Dashboard Germany ( (only in german). This data portal of the Federal Statistical Office combines up-to-date indicators of official statistics and from other data providers on the topics of economy and finance as well as health and mobility. A tool also available there is the Economic Pulse Monitor (Pulsmesser für die Wirtschaft) (only in german). It can be used for real-time monitoring of the economic development.

We discuss the reasons and the background of skilled labour shortage in Germany with a focus on the vocational training market also in our podcast „StatGespräch“ (only in german) on vocational training. For instance, we explain what findings regarding the shortage of young skilled labour can be derived from vocational training statistics and what potential data gaps should be closed.

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